The Joe Royle column

I KNOW the coverage for the World Cup win has virtually reached saturation point but I make no apology as a converted rugby fan in adding my congratulations on what was a fantastic achievement.

I KNOW the coverage for the World Cup win has virtually reached saturation point but I make no apology as a converted rugby fan in adding my congratulations on what was a fantastic achievement.

The discipline in a game of such high tension was amazing. While I was jumping up and down accusing the referee of being Scottish or even Australian the players accepted decisions and got on with it.

It was a far cry from the afternoon and the reaction after penalty appeals in our game against Sheffield United.

Football can learn lessons from Rugby Union and I'm sure if the players reacted differently, the crowds would not be incited as much.


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After watching the World Cup I'm now a union fan and it was fantastic by England to win it.

The fitness levels of our players going into extra time after a gruelling game was part of the great achievement.

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We scored a try despite what the Aussies had said beforehand about not having flair and when you look at the Webb Ellis Trophy there will be no qualification next to the word winners.

All in all it was a good day for English sport and well done to Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson and all the boys – they did us proud.

Clive Woodward and his boys have turned things around since the 70-point deficit against Australia a few years ago and no doubt the continuity built up over that period has helped.

During that continuity though it was important that progress was seen to being made, as it needs to in any sport.

You can't just have continuity for continuity's sake.

The wise old sages in the RFU changed and backed Clive Woodward and believed all along that he was making progress.

Clive's demeanour throughout was exemplary and perhaps a few managers could do with having a chat with him about discipline and manner.

You have to credit Clive for his foresight, organisation, motivational skills and tactical nous but the RFU have backed him too when some were calling for his head not too many years ago.

WHILE we as Englishmen and women have been basking in the glow of the rugby success, things did not work out for Scotland and Wales in the Euro 2004 qualifiers.

But well done to Mark Hughes who has achieved a wonderful turn around in Welsh football only to lose out to a very accomplished Russian side.

Russia and Spain are enigmas in terms of world football in as much as they turn out great individual players but don't quite make it as teams sometimes.

In Scotland's case, we said last week they had produced a great performance to beat a Holland side that none of the Scotland players could hope to get into.

But unfortunately for Bertie McVogts and his boys the Dutch woke up and showed on their day why they are ranked higher in the world than England.

Dick Advocaat must scratch his head and wonder what he is going to get from his Dutch masters from one day to the next. In the end the 6-0 scoreline did not flatter them.

As much as I had great sport with Willie Donachie over the result I would, in my heart of hearts, have loved to have seen the Scots get through.

I have said before our Dutchmen here are true gentlemen and while Fabian Wilnis has mentioned the result they have all accepted victory graciously.

WITHOUT going into the legal aspects of the argument between Sir Alex Ferguson and John Magnier I don't see that their court case will affect their working relationship at Manchester United.

You will know that the two are in conflict over the shared ownership of the extremely successful horse Rock of Gibraltar.

Without knowing the legal ins and outs or who is going to win, I do know Alex well enough to say he is professional enough to blank it from his mind, especially when it comes to a Saturday, and the Manchester United win-machine will grind on under the country's most successful ever manager.

I don't know John at all but from what I gather no matter what the personal grievances, he is no fool and would loathe to tinker with that winning formula.

The first-team squad have got behind the share issue by joining in and buying shares.

Apart from the 25,000 people who show their love of this club by turning up most weeks, there are tens of thousands of people around the country who regard Ipswich Town as their second club.

Whenever I'm up north people smile and tell me they have always liked Ipswich and all it stands for.

The players here love this club, it is a great place to be, a terrific club to play for and they didn't need much persuasion to get behind the issue. It is the same with myself and the staff, we fully support the shares.

There can be nothing further from the truth in those one or two making accusations that the club is losing its community spirit.

I don't know of any other club that is more accessible for supporters and the whole community to its players than here.

We have a full community programme running throughout the week, whether it is coaching all age groups, or education and IT involvement. The players are regularly out meeting people.

I understand there was a time after promotion to the Premiership and the influx of many new players, when it was harder to get near Ipswich players and to a community that had grown up with the club it was slightly uncomfortable.

We listen and observe all criticisms but I was dismayed to hear this and certainly compared to other clubs the access to Ipswich players and its community involvement is excellent.

We take pride in our closeness to the people of East Anglia and I'm comfortable that our whole community conscience is clear.

WE don't talk about our games too much in this column but it was good to break the curse of the Manager of the Month award by winning for the first time since October (beating Sheffield United) and it was also our first win with the yellow ball apparently.

It was a big win and a big statement for us and we did it in style. Without tempting fate the shoots of recovery are strong.

We are going into Christmas in a good position, we should be better but I'm confident that we will improve even more and go even higher.

As told to Derek Davis

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